Thursday 11 October 2012

Highly Strung

Having people over for meals gives me the opportunity to try new things out, things that I wouldn't necessarily cook for just any old dinner.

My mum recently celebrated a milestone birthday and that seemed like a good reason to do something a little bit fancy. So I flicked through all my cook books searching for inspiration and came across a recipe in my French book that I have been wanting to try for ages. It is so incredibly close to failsafe to that few changes were needed and the end result was really quite special. The meat is cooked for a very short time, which suits the amine sensitive and the cut is so very tender when it is done. Unfortunately the cost of the cut will relegate it to "special occasion" status.

Boeuf à la Ficelle
(Beef on a string)

  • Beef fillet (allow about 200g per adult, less for kids - I cooked for 5 adults and 2 kids and used 1.2kg)
  • 6 cups liquid (this could be stock, water, whiskey or a combination - I used 1/2 cup whiskey and 3 tablespoons of vegetable stock concentrate with 5 1/2 cups of water). If you are cooking less meat you won't need as much liquid.
  • 1 large swede, cut into batons (sticks)
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into batons
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cabbage, sliced
  • 6 shallots, trimmed and cut into long lengths
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  1. Trim the beef of any visible fat and sinew and cut into portions. Tie a length of cooking string around each piece so that it holds shape leaving enough string attached to lower the beef into the pot.
  2. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the vegetables and parsley and cook at a medium boil for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Discard the parsley and skim and fat or foam from the surface.
  3. Season the beef with a little salt and lower into the boiling stock. Tie the string around the pot handle or to a wooden spoon resting across the top of the pot. Cook for 6mins for rare, 10 mins for medium rare, 15 mins for medium and 20 mins for well done (for those who can't bear the sight of pink in their meat).
  4. Place each piece of meat on a plate or shallow bowl, add the cooked vegetables and ladle some of the broth over to serve.
  • Salicylates - Add a carrot cut into batons with the other vegetables (moderate) and a bay leaf and 2 sprigs of thyme (very high).
  • Amines - use beef stock for the liquid.
We didn't eat all the cooking liquid on the night, so I reserved it and froze it. Normally beef stock would be too high in amines to use, but as the beef was only cooked very briefly it make a nice, mild beef stock that I would happily use again.

This dish was so succulent and was happily devoured by failsafers and non-failsafers alike.

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